Columbus Isle

Columbus Isle

General:
There is very little to see on this island so expect to spend most of your time in the village. If it was ever full the Club holds 500, a little smaller than normal. The only time this village ever fills is late summer (and Christmas, of course) when it will be loaded with French. This location is very popular with the Europeans. I know Club Med had offered a 'buy two weeks - get a third free' to just the Europeans, a while back. That would be strong incentive for me.

Getting to this village is not as easy as it might seem. San Salvador is a small island with little or no tourist draw. There is one other small hotel on the island catering to a few SCUBA divers. Other than the Club's air charter, the only way to reach the island is using Bahamas Air and connecting through Nassau (one flight per day) or Miami (three flights per week). Bahamas Air takes 'losing luggage' and 'we'll be delayed' to a new level. The Club's charter comes in twice a day on the weekend. If there were enough people in your group you might even charter your own small plane.

To say the village is close to the airport, is difficult. Spitting distance is more like it. It takes longer to get into and out of the vehicles, than does the drive. With as few flights as there are, this proximity to the airport is not a problem. If you do your own transportation, the Club will graciously take you from the airport to the village, in their van. It's only when you go to check-out that you find that they have added a $10US 'transfer' fee to your bill.

The Sea Center is a combination facility. It is the focus for the SCUBA divers, as you might expect by the name. Divers: make sure you ask for rooms close to here. It also houses the workout room and disco downstairs, with the two annex restaurants upstairs. The hyperbaric chamber is out back (doesn't every hotel have one) and there is a small bar in the front corner. The bar is a delightful place to sit and watch the sun set.

Probably the best way to see the local sites is by bicycle. BUT, on my last visit, I was told that they no longer offered bicycles. I was also told that this was seasonal. This might mean 'it's seasonal', or that it's a prelude to 'No we don't offer that anymore'. You can rent a scooter at the airport, if you'd like. The island is as flat as they come, so no problem there. To ride or walk into town you must cross the airstrip, but don't worry, there is a warning sign advising you to look both ways before crossing.



Some Columbus Isle pictures



Pros:
SCUBA.
This is the biggest draw for this village. This is the biggest dive operation in the Club Med American zone. I saw my first hammerhead here. Way cool.

Rooms.
You're not supposed to spend a lot of time in your room. But when you do, it is nice to have something approaching a resort hotel room. These are attractive and have a nice large bathroom; even a small fridge. A walk-in closet is very welcome. The air-conditioner even turns off momentarily when you open the front door; nice touch.


Cons:
Quiet to the EXTREME.
This is Club Med on Valium. For anyone that goes to this village as their first time Club Med experience, I want to apologize right now. This is NOT what Club Med is like. I'm not SCUBA bashing, but sometimes too many SCUBA divers can draw down the energy level of the village, as they tend to go to bed very early. I'm not blaming everything on the divers, Club Med touts this as a couples village (and honeymooners). But come on folks, it doesn't have to be like this; couples can have fun too.

Air-conditioning.
Air-conditioning in general is a good thing. I think it was overdone here. The bar did not need to be enclosed and frozen. There were times when I had to go outside just to warm up. NOTE: On my last visit, they seemed to be a bit better on this point.

TV's and telephones.
If you want Club Med's Finest, you are forced to take TV's and telephones also. The TV has 15 channels, plus 3 of 'info-village'. The info channels are the same village informational video, but with different cable radio background music (soft rock, classical, and jazz). Is there is a remote control for the TV, of course. If they really offend, you could put a towel or something, over them. The phone does come in handy for wake up calls, no more staggering to the door to sign a piece of paper. NOTE: On my last visit, the info channels were only working 2 of the 10 days of my stay; not really too useful.


SCUBA diving:
This is a Dedicated Dive Center. They have 3 very nice boats, one new 55 foot catamaran and two 45 foot ones. There are two (2 tank) trips in the morning and one (1 tank) trip in the afternoon. There might also be another single tank trip in the morning; depends. I found for a two week stay, that doing the early 2 tank trip the first week and the later 2 tank trip for the second week worked out very well; they go to different dive sites. Basically all the sites are wall dives. Most of the walls start at about 50 foot and go real deep. Even if you do a wall site twice, one time you go left and the next time you go right. No wreck dives in the area. One night dive per week.

They have a dive photographer that will take your picture with Frankie the Grouper, if you do the dive site at 'telephone pole'. Frankie is quite large and very friendly.

I believe a dive computer is ABSOLUTELY essential here.

Columbus Isle Dive Sites

Bad stuff: the boats are big and hold 40+ folks; that's a lot of divers on one site. Stay away from the beginner groups, the buddy teams are the first off the boat; first in - last out.

NOTE: They no longer have early breakfast at the Sea Center. If you have a room close to the dive dock (aka: Sea Center), you'll end up doing extra walking back to the main dinning room for breakfast, then back to the dock. Please complain about this one.

NOTE: Each person in the buddy team has to have his/her own computer or else you dive using the tables.


Waterski:
Summer season only (May 1 - Oct 30). You must swim out to the platform.


Picnic:
Only during the Summer season (May 1 - Oct 30). It's on the other side of the island; with NO shade. You will be required to swim from the boat to shore (could be 6 foot, could be more - you WILL get wet). Tuesday 10AM - 4PM.


Recommended excursions:
None. Well maybe one. Take a tour (free) of the hyperbaric chamber. For divers, I hope this is the only way you'll see one. For everyone else, when was the last time you saw a hyperbaric chamber while on vacation; see, I thought not.


Excursions:
SCUBA (2 tank) & picnic - cigarette boat. All day (9AM - 4PM), almost everyday.
Deep sea fishing. Half day (8AM - 2:30PM), almost everyday.
Island tour. Half day (9AM - 12PM), min. 4 persons. Tuesday in English & Friday in French.
Sunset cruise. One per week, Thursday, min 10 persons.
Horseback riding. 7AM - 6PM, everyday.


Walk to town.
The town is VERY small, but if you want to see it, on foot or by bicycle is the best way.
NOTE: If you walk out the ClubMed main entrance, you'll add about 10 minutes to your walk.

On foot: walk down to the SeaCenter and continue along the beach, go around the end of the fence, across the town baseball field, across the airstrip (look both ways), past the Riding Rock Inn and the marina, then continue on the main road to town.
10 - 15 minutes to Riding Rock Inn
10 - 15 minutes more to town

NOTE: Wednesday is the night to party at Riding Rock. Walk over and see how the other half live.



Most recent visit: May-98



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